Travis Kitchen was a builder, a fisherman and a man with lots of very close friends.
He lost an eye at Iwo Jima, but he never really talked about that.
On Saturday, friends, family and fellow VFW members gathered in Devon to dedicate the VFW Post 7788 building in Kitchen’s name, largely because Kitchen was a major force in building the hall, and he was one of its most dedicated maintainers.
Former Post Commander Greg Smith said that in later years, members had to keep quiet about needed repairs because, despite his age and failing health, Kitchen would try to fix things.
“Nobody would talk about what needed fixing because at 89 years old, he’d grab a ladder and head onto the roof,” Smith said.
Kitchen died Sept. 16, 2013 at age 90.
He served with honor in the U.S. Army Air Force in the 20th Air Force 348 Service Group. He received the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Bronze Star.
Kitchen and his friends built the VFW Post 7788 in 1946. Working on the weekends, they built the hall using a lot of timbers that came from some of the old hotels along Milford’s shoreline, Smith said.
Richard Kitchen, Travis’s son, was at Saturday’s dedication ceremony to honor his father. Richard worked with his father at Travis Kitchen Buidlers, before starting his own business, Richard Kitchen Builders.
Travis was a good father and a hard worker, still working when he was 89 years old.
Richard said he thinks of his father when he drives by the VFW or stops in.
Joe Kulikowski was one of Kitchen’s many friends. Kulikowski, who worked in plumbing and heating, often did work for Kitchen, who did construction.
“Travis was well known in Milford,” Kulikowski said, explaining that Kitchen did construction work on many Milford homes.
Kulikowski called him a “gentle giant, and said he was kind, funny and a great fisherman.
Friend Ronnie Quarford said Kitchen hailed from Mississippi and came east to rivet planes “and he never went back.”
Another friend, Bob Janes, talked about Kitchen the fisherman.
As the covering was removed from a sign in front of the hall Saturday, revealing the Travis Kitchen name, Janes recalled all the time spent on Kitchen’s boat.
“Half the guys who couldn’t make it today because they’re up in heaven spent lots of time on his boat,” Janes said.